New AN (2016-07-13): I am currently in the process of revising this entire story. There will be no updates until I am done, so please enter at your own risk. The earliest estimate for updates to resume is in the fall of 2016. Thanks.

Pairings: Sess/Kik (slight Inu/Kik at the beginning), minor Inu/Kag, Mir/San

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha, the character or the story. They belong to Takahashi-sensei and respective owners.

Fukai Mori

1. Prologue

The foot of Mount Hakurei.

It was a full moon. Silver light illuminated the dark skies, rays cast upon swaying canopies below. Still beyond were the fields, lit orange-red by a hazy firelight. A toad youkai and a young child sat around it, munching on a cooked hare; nearby was an Inu-taiyoukai leaning on a maple with low hanging leaves, intricate shadows playing on his equally intricate armour.

His mane was the colour of the moon - it cascaded down to his kimono adorned with the red and white of blossoms. Two magenta stripes ran down each pale cheek, forehead crowned a blue crescent. Golds opened under red-painted eyelids to stare at the single claw held before him.

The digits slowly opened to show a length of worn fabric entwined between them. Tinted grey and yellow, there was hardly any of its original white left; only he knew it was once a miko's ribbon.

He clasped it in his palm once more, sparing it a glance no more.

Fifty years ago, the last of his stupidity was left behind.

That stupidity was his heart, still sitting somewhere...



...deep in the forest.

The Lord of the West fought a battle. He won, naturally.

But he was now swaying. His kimono was soaked with something that dripped down his limb, his eyes couldn't see beyond the shouki, nor his sense of smell pick up its pungent aroma, but even without them he knew it was his blood, not that he cared.

Even the divine creation that was his body became too heavy. He set its weight onto the undergrowth, satisfied there was no other sound but that of his last movement. He would bestow upon this forest his presence for a bit longer...just a bit longer...

Footsteps. How much time had passed before he awoke to them did not matter, what did was that he eliminate such fool to dare disturb him. He commanded his claw to draw his sword but no such signal reached his limb. Very well, then he should tear arteries with his fangs. Yet, even his legs refused to stand, and the slightest try to open his eyes met a searing pain.

How useless. If he could he would've ripped out his own limbs and gouge out his own eyes here and now.

"Give up, Youkai. You cannot kill me in this condition."

The footsteps paused when the voice spoke. A human. A woman. Heh. Not even worthy of being torn apart by him.

"Be grateful for my mercy and leave before I change my mind and send you to Hell, Human."

"I do not fear death."

She stayed.

Something was set on the grass. Then he heard a curious sound, metal clashing upon metal, but the ring dulled by mushy resistance. It was unlike swords slicing flesh - more gentle, but still powerful.

She was grinding herbs.

When she was done, she reached for him. How stupid of a decision.

"Is it that your empty skull cannot comprehend your uselessness? Go back and live out your pathetic life, Human. I have no more patience to waste on the likes of you."

"Say what you will. If I do not tend to your eyes, you will lose vision."

There was an urgency to her tone. He had never heard such sound.

A human who didn't plead for mercy or scream with hatred - such thing should not exist.

"I am a miko," she continued, "I will heal you, I promise."

A cool paste was applied where it burnt most with pain. Such relief was unnecessary for a lord, but as a rare pardon, he allowed her to serve him as she should.

"Speaking of which, I have yet to learn your name. You certainly do not just go by 'youkai', correct?" the miko asked after the wounds were bandaged.

Heh. Why should a lord as him answer her question? Should it not be her responsibility to know who she served?

But once, just once he would reward her with his name.

"Sesshoumaru." he demanded - demanded her to remember it.

There was a long silence, followed by the sound of shuffling as the miko pushed something towards him. He could not see its steam, but he could feel its searing wetness by his lips.

The miko must've prepared it just before she came.

"Then, Sesshoumaru, please drink this. It's medicine. It will neutralize the poison inside of you."

"I have no need for such a thing."

But even as he said so, he bit onto the spoon and tipped the liquid into his mouth.

It tasted like nothing. He could hardly feel it run down his throat.

The next spoonful came, then another, until the bowl was empty. The miko's initially quivering movements gained a sense of confidence. "Are you not going to ask for my name?" she asked, her tone also having lightened. Without a sense of sight, he replaced her image in his mind - she would be smiling.

She was happy? How was that possible?

"I, Sesshoumaru, have no interest in the names of measly humans like you."

"I see," she answered. Her feet were heavy, rustling leaves as she rose to stand. "Do not move from this spot, it will interfere with your recovery."

And the steps faded, leaving behind emptiness. He found himself waiting for something.

The land warmed to day. There was no reason to stay, so the taiyoukai got up to leave.

Despite not seeing, not smelling, he still moved. His instinct was adequate.

If only he didn't encounter a powerful barrier.

It threw him down. Arrows followed, shredding sleeves to pin him with magic energy."I guess I have no choice but to keep you down by force," she said.

She, the miko...

She was back.

"Stop moving, it is no use. You are probably hungry, so I brought you food."

"I will not consume what you call food." Sesshoumaru snarled.

"Now you will," the miko answered bluntly. He would not give her the satisfaction of forcing it down his mouth, so he just consumed and swallowed.

Besides, it was warm. The porridge, her hands, her close to him...

What demented thoughts! Human food was trash, but it would provide sustenance. He was a warrior. He would recover his body, then gut her to brandish his pride.

The sun rose and fell, day and night rotated. She did not stop coming, he no longer tried to leave. Her flowery scent grew sharper, her blurry image clearer. He could not wait...

...could not wait to know her presence and order it to serve him for an eternity.

On one such day, the miko cleansed off the old poultices without putting on any new herbs. Instead, she removed the ribbon tying her hair to wrap it around the taiyoukai's eyes.

"Your eyes have recovered, but they are still sensitive, so hopefully the ribbon will block out the sunlight while you adjust," the miko explained as she took her leave.

"You will return tomorrow night," Sesshoumaru commanded.

He would not ask, he would not beg, she would do as he told her. She must!

"I will come back for the ribbon," she obeyed, "since you said you hated human things."

Fifty long years had passed...

But the miko never returned...

To the place where the taiyoukai had left his heart behind...

Sesshoumaru stared off towards where Jaken and Rin were chasing each other under the moonlight, then shifted towards Mount Hakurei in the distance.

Thick mist clouded the tops of ancient woods, so thick, so deep that everything underneath was hidden.

As it should rightly be, for it could not be possible, that all these years, he had been waiting for her.

End of Prologue - and reviews are appreciated!